History of the New Years Celebration
By Nathan Prestwich
At the end of each year, people celebrate the coming of the next one. There has always been a new year of course but people have not always celebrated it. But the celebration has been around for longer than you may think.
The earliest recognition of a new year is believed to have been in Mesopotamia circa 2000 B.C. and was originally celebrated in the middle of March, known as the vernal equinox.
Early Roman calendars designated March first as the New Year. This calendar had ten months, which began with March first. Evidence of this is that the names of the months September-December were named as originally positioned as the seventh through tenth months. (septem is Latin for "seven," octo is "eight," novem is "nine," and decem is "ten.")
The first time the New Year was moved to January first was in 153 B.C. by Rome. This day was moved from March to January because this was the month newly elected Roman Consuls-the highest officials in the Roman Republic- began their one-year reign. This new date was not very enforced and celebration sometimes still occurred on March first.
Julius Caesar introduced the solar calendar in 46 B.C., which was a vast improvement on the previously used lunar calendar. This Julian calendar said that the New Year would start on January first. In the Roman world this date became the consistently observed start of the New Year.
In medieval Europe, however, the celebrations accompanying the New Year were considered Pagan and unchristian like. In 567 A.D. the Council of Tours did not recognize January first as the beginning of the year. The New Year was celebrated on multiple dates throughout medieval Christian Europe including, December 25th, March first, March 25th, and Easter.
January first was not restored as the start of the New Year until 1582, due to the Gregorian calendar reform. Most Catholic countries adopted this calendar immediately and Protestant countries...